Romantic relationships are increasingly seen as the norm in society. People long to find a partner who will become their lifelong companion. However, not everyone views romance in the same light. If you are in a relationship with an aromantic individual, you may need to learn new ways of communicating in order to keep their affection. This comprehensive guide will help you understand what aromantic means, the types of attractions individuals experience, and the importance of a strong social support system.
Romantic attraction refers to an emotional response characterized by affection, admiration, and adoration between individuals or between a group of individuals that includes affection. Individuals or groups can initiate romantic attraction; an individual can even experience romantic attraction even though they do not wish for romantic relationships at that time. Romantic attraction should not be confused with sexual attraction because it does not lead to desires for physical intimacy.
Aromantic is often mistaken for being anti-love or not experiencing love at all; however, this is far from accurate; many aromantic people enjoy strong friendships, familial bonds, queerplatonic partnerships, and queerplatonic connections; aromantic people also often find fulfillment through work or hobbies as a source of fulfillment in relationships.
Asexuality and romance are separate entities, yet they can often overlap in certain situations. For example, someone identifying as aromantic but non-sexual might still feel sexual urges around friends or family members. According to the 2015 Asexual Community Census results, 25% of participants identified themselves as aromantic, making it the most prevalent romantic orientation within this subset of Asexuality.
Romance can take many forms, and some individuals experience it more frequently than others. Romances differ depending on the frequency and intensity of romantic attraction as well as the desire for relationships. Here are some of the varying forms:
- Gray-aromantic: People who identify as gray-romantic may occasionally or, under certain conditions, experience romantic feelings, though not on an ongoing basis.
- Demiromantic: Individuals who identify as demiromantics only experience romantic emotions toward others after creating a mutually shared emotional bond.
- Akoiromantic: People who experience romantic feelings toward other people but whose feelings diminish if the romantic attraction is not reciprocated are considered akoiromantics, while those who are recipromantic experience romantic attraction toward someone and desire a relationship with that individual.
Romantic attraction can be confusing for aromantics, as it can result in feelings of euphoria and an overwhelming amount of affection. But it is essential to remember that romantic attraction doesn’t equate to not loving anyone; these individuals still likely hold strong bonds of friendship with their family members, colleagues, and coworkers.
People can experience romantic and platonic attraction to others, with platonic attraction distinct from romantic attraction. Platonic relationships typically consist of mutual respect and emotional closeness based on mutual respect; these may lead to feelings of affection, love, admiration, or admiration from both partners involved.
People can also develop crushes that form emotionally connected bonds but lack sexual aspects; crushes can differ from romantic partners in that their intentions and levels of intimacy vary; crushes typically require emotional contact without sexual elements being present, while romantic partners typically involve more intense feelings of love but with different intentions or levels of intimacy between partners involved compared with those involved in both relationships.
Aromantic individuals seeking platonic relationships may sometimes feel misunderstood by others. Therefore, it is important for them to build a support network of friends and family that can offer emotional and social assistance, join support groups, or look for online resources to better understand their experiences.
Aromantic people may also seek other types of relationships, including with coworkers or community members, and their family can provide strong bonds of attachment that bring feelings of fulfillment. Building and fostering these other bonds of relating is crucial for aromantic individuals’ mental well-being.
Aromantic people may face pressure from society to enter romantic or sexual relationships, settle down, and have children, which can create frustration for many of them. Further, stigma or backlash from others who can’t understand their experiences could also prove challenging.
If you know an aromantic individual, reminding them that you are available and willing to provide support is helpful. One way of doing this is to listen when they discuss their experiences or worries without interrupting or playing devil’s advocate; these actions may feel invalidating for them. If you need further assistance supporting an aromantic friend or family member, therapy provides an ideal space in which they can explore themselves and their experiences safely.
Aromantic individuals may want to form bonds with others, have children and provide emotional support, work on projects together, or share interests with specific individuals; however, their romantic feelings don’t need to be romantic; aromantic individuals typically find sexual attraction uninteresting; their primary partner might simply be someone they rely on emotionally or live with, without sexual attraction playing an active role in the relationship.
Many individuals who identify as aromantic don’t accurately grasp their relationship experiences, leading them to believe they’re incapable of or interested in romantic love. Others’ descriptions of romantic feelings and desires might leave them confused while they can’t comprehend why their affection for another remains platonic.
Some aromantic individuals have never experienced romance; others may have had occasional crushes or infatuations that only lasted briefly in certain situations or circumstances. Their experiences often ranged more toward fascination or obsession than genuine romantic attachment, often making it hard for them to differentiate whether they’re feeling affection for someone as a friend or potential romantic partner, leading their partner(s) to perceive contradicting signals coming from them.
Aromantic people can experience love just like anyone else; platonic affection can be just as real and valid as romantic passion, and both types can co-exist simultaneously in people’s lives. Aromantics may find comfort in feeling loved by themselves, friends, family, and acquaintances despite having different orientations than others.
People who know someone who identifies as aromantic must support and educate themselves about their relationships while remaining supportive themselves. People can do this by refraining from challenging an aromantic individual’s feelings or insisting they change their opinions regarding romance, and by helping educate others on the complexity of relationships as experienced differently by different individuals.
People with aromantic preferences often feel disdained by those around them, leading to feelings of shame and isolation when pressured to be intimate or romantic with someone. It’s important to respect a person’s choices while understanding that romantic attraction is not the only form of love; building social bonds without romance may provide greater satisfaction and support than ever.
Aromantic people may find fulfillment through hobbies or activities such as sports, travel, and volunteerism. Aromantics have an amazing capacity to develop affectionate bonds with animals—even strangers such as neighbors and coworkers!
Assembling a support system that fits is key to relieving stress and maintaining mental well-being. If someone you spend time with is unreliable, inconsiderate, or critical, they might not be the ideal companion; similarly, if someone’s presence causes constant drama or negativity, they might not be suitable as partners either.
Some aromantic people experience romantic attraction yet rarely engage in sexual or affectionate activities with their romantic partners. While this can create feelings of loneliness for aromantic individuals, this need can often be met through other relationships and activities that provide fulfillment.
CameronWhimsy of Tumblr designed the most current flag for aromantic communities to untether sexuality from romantic love. This flag seeks to break free from conventional notions of sexuality.
If you are aromantic, be bold about speaking out if you feel misunderstood by those around you or have difficulty finding acceptance within your community. Consider consulting a therapist who can help you process and understand any experiences, such as loneliness or guilt, related to being aromantic.